Butterscotch Blondies on a Sunday

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… a little caramel origami bird (•ө•)

Last Sunday was kind of perfect. Grey and cold outside, I spent the day inside, warm and cosy, a slow day with soft light, not getting out of my pyjamas, the smell of coffee, and my favourite person hovering over their laptop trying to get things done while I baked blondies and drank tea, and also a bath, and naps, and copious episodes of friends.
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I’ve never had blondies before, but my parents got me the Violet Bakery Cookbook for my birthday, and I was itching to try out one of the recipes. The whole entire book is just beautiful, and all of the recipes seem straightforward, and look and sound delicious. The cakes and bakes, savoury and sweet, are rustic and very, very pretty, with, heavy emphasis on flavour over fancy (i.e. not a single decorative and fussy but ultimately dry and boring cupcake in sight). And the photos are gorgeous.

I decided to only add caramel shards to half of the pan of blondies, because I was a bit worried I may have made the caramel a tiny bit too dark. I don’t think so after all, now, but I’m glad I tried it, because the result was two very distinct kinds of blondie, one akin to chewy salted chocolate chip cookies (!!!!), and one a tad more sophisticated, but also a bit sweeter.

I personally go back and forth between which version I prefer (I was eating them for three days, so I had plenty of time to reflect on the matter), and those I’ve made to try them have been split down the middle, too. I guess it depends, then, on what you’re going for – a blondie that’s a tad more decadent, and a bit more impressive, with chewy pockets of butterscotch, or one that is basically just a giant chewy salted chocolate chip cookie. I just don’t know. Luckily I made both 😈 I think I may also try a version with both milk and dark chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

What I’m getting at is that this is a very, very yummy blondie. One that I will definitely make again. It’s rich, dense, chewy, and best eaten in small amounts, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can finish off the entire pan…. Like my mum said, sarcastically, does this contain any butter? 😏

And, unlike a cookie, which I prefer completely fresh out of the oven for that perfect crisp to chewy-gooey ratio, I actually liked these blondies even better the next day, after they’d had time to really chewify (yes, I may have made up that verb).

They keep really well for days, too (three days tops though). Happy munching! 🙂

The Violet Butterscoth (and/or Chocolate Chip) Blondie
From The Violet Bakery Cookbook / the happy foodie – yield: 12-16 blondies

  • 250 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (if you only have salted, simply half the amount of salt used below), plus a bit for greasing the cake tin
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (1 3/4 cups) light brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanillla extract
  • 240 g (1 3/4 cups) flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 125 g (4 ½ ounces) milk chocolate , broken/chopped into smaller pieces
  • 75 g caramel shards (if using): 2 tbsp water + 150 g caster sugar*

* This makes 150 g of caramel shards, i.e. twice the amount needed for one portion of butterscotch blondies, and in my case, since I made only a half portion with caramel, four times the amount needed; although you can keep the caramel shards in the freezer for future use, I think you’d be ok to half the amount of water and sugar, though, and only make one half portion – I will try this out next time.

For the caramel shards:

Cover a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Make your caramel shards by placing the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium to low heat. Don’t stir, just let the sugar start to dissolve. Once it does, increase the heat to medium-high, still not stirring, to avoid crystallisation. Watch the mixture closely as it begins to darken (if some of the sugar isn’t melting properly, give the pan a gentle twirl to distribute the melting sugar a bit more evenly).

When the bubbling caramel is a deep dark golden brown, carefully pour it onto your greaseproof paper. Twirl the baking sheet around until you have a thin, even layer of caramel. Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, either (carefully) with a knife, or by scrunching the greaseproof paper with your hands. If not used more or less right away, place in a container or freezer bag and place in the freezer, as it will go sticky and soft quite quickly.

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For the batter:

Grease a 20×30 cm baking tin, and line with baking parchment; preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F.

Chop the milk chocolate.

Melt the butter (either in the microwave for just under a minute or in a small pan), and set aside for a moment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, then whisk in the melted butter.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, then fold this and the milk chocolate pieces into the egg and sugar mixture with a silicone spatula, just until combined/there are no streaks of flour.

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Pour into the baking tin and smooth out with your spatula, then distribute 75 g of the caramel shards evenly on top, if making butterscotch blondies, 35 g over half of the batter if making half/half, and none, if making simple chewy chocolate chip blondies.

Bake for 30 minutes, until they are golden and set but still a little soft and gooey in the middle.

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Let cool completely before cutting into pieces (although I did yield and have some while they were still warm 😉 ).

Keep leftover blondies well-covered in the tin, or in an air tight container. They travel very well, and keep for about three days, should you decide not to share them with anyone else.

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P.s.: A few of the other Violet Bakery Cookbook goodies I can’t wait to try out are these rye chocolate brownies and coconut macaroons, and the ham, cheese and leek scones (not pictured):

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No Banana Left Behind

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins

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I haven’t really been craving anything banana-ey lately, and so I put off making anything with the pile of super brown bananas lying in my fruit bowl. Then on Friday my friend Nadia brought me some brown bananas she’d had lying around, and, not wanting to chuck the lot, Sunday night I decided to just get on with it, use the damn bananas. I feel kind of bad saying it, I mean I LOVE bananas, and most any kind of baked good with them in it, but the past weeks I’ve just been daydreaming about fudgy brownies and cinnamon rolls. But, in my kitchen, no banana is left behind.

I first made Luna Månebarn’s vegan banana bread in November of last year, and have been making it again and again and again ever since. It’s so good, and so quick to make, better than most non-vegan banana breads out there. Then a little while back, she posted a recipe for blueberry muffins with bananas and poppy seeds, and I printed it out and put it in my ‘to try’ pile. It’s a ‘mix everything together in one bowl’ kind of recipe, which takes about 10 minutes, tops, to mix together and distribute into your muffin pan, probably less time than it takes to heat up your oven, which is my most favourite kind of recipe. Especially when it’s 10 pm on a Sunday, and I have a bunch of brown bananas looking at me with sad, reproachful eyes.

And these muffins – oh man. They’re kind of surprising, I wouldn’t normally think to pair bananas and poppy seeds! But these are so light and moist, sweet with just the right amount of salty, and the delicate sweetness and satisfying crunch of the poppy seeds and bursts of tangy blueberries that offset the sweetness… I’ve already eaten six.

I whipped them up in less than 30 minutes, start to finish. They are just lovely and kind of delicately wholesome, and at times almost taste like they have chocolate in them (maybe the combination of poppy seeds and super ripe bananas does that?! I don’t know, but some bites taste almost chocolatey to me). I made a double portion to use up more bananas, the recipe doubles super easily. I might add 50 g more blueberries next time, I like my blueberry muffins heavy on the blueberry! Other than that, to me at least, these are kind of perfect.

Though do make sure to check your teeth after eating one, poppy seeds love to hang around 😏 😁

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted slightly from maanebarnet / yield: 12

  • 150 g (1 1/5 cups or 1 cup and 3 tbsp) flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cups) sugar (I use cane sugar)
  • 50 g (a scant 1/2 cup) blue poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ very ripe bananas, mushed
  • 50 g oil (1/4 cup) (I used coconut)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 100 g (1 cup) frozen blueberries + 1 tbsp flour

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and baking soda.

Mush your bananas, then add these, along with the oil and the vinegar (or lemon juice) to the dry ingredients. Stir everything together well, but don’t over-stir – just until you’re sure there are no streaks of flour. Toss the blueberries in the tbsp of flour, then quickly and gently fold these into the batter.

Scoop into your muffin liners, then bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins are nice and golden. Let them cool in the pan.

Eat one as soon as you can 🙂 they keep well for several days at room temperature. I’m sure they also freeze well (the banana-nut ones do), but I will test this and report back!